Gay couple wins lawsuit against florist who took them to Supreme Court to avoid doing their wedding flowers

Florist called the legal loss “devastating news”

Graig Graziosi
Friday 02 July 2021 21:15
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<p>Arlene’s Flowers in Washington state. The owner of the flower shop was sued for denying service to a gay couple for their wedding.</p>

Arlene’s Flowers in Washington state. The owner of the flower shop was sued for denying service to a gay couple for their wedding.

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A gay couple has won a lawsuit against a florist who refused to arrange flowers for the couple because they were gay and doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

The florist, Arlene's Flowers, which is owned by Barronelle Stutzman, initially lost the suit but appealed the case to the US Supreme Court, according to ABC News.

Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed – the couple who sued the florist – said they hoped the victory in the courts would send a hopeful message to the LGBT+ community.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court judges refused to hear the case.

“After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead,” Mr Ingersoll said in a statement. “We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

The ACLU assisted the couple in suing the florist, citing Washington's anti-discrimination law that prevents businesses that are open to the general public from refusing people service on the basis of sexual orientation, even due to religious beliefs.

The incident took place in 2013, and the suit has been in limbo since then. The US Supreme Court sent the suit back to the state in 2018, where the Washington Supreme Court affirmed its decision.

“The State of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case – refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding – constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the [law],” the Washington Supreme Court wrote in 2019.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas broke from the other justices, suggesting they would have heard the case.

Ms Stutzman's lawyers issued a statement calling the ruling “devastating news”.

The Supreme Court has gone back and forth on LGBT+ legal protections.

Earlier this month the court sided with Catholic Social Services in a suit between it and the City of Philadelphia concerning discrimination against LGBT+ people while screening for parents.

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